Going Gluten-FreeAugust 5, 2014

Gluten-Free Mobile App Reviews

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Posted by Erica Dermer

Finding a safe, gluten-free restaurant can be difficult, and sometimes impossible. As I return from yet another conference a plane flight away, I’m reflecting on just how I could have possibly survived navigating a gluten-full world without mobile apps. I use gluten-free apps at home and when I travel – basically anytime I find myself in a new neighborhood and want to check out the gluten-free scene. While there are paid apps available with (potentially) more full-bodied information, I’m only going to talk about the free apps available.

The biggest and best mobile app for gluten-free living is Find Me Gluten Free, which is also a full website at FindMeGlutenFree.com.

 

  • PRO: This app is so simple to use, as it’s able to find where you are by your GPS location or by typing in the address (helpful for pre-planning before a vacation).
  • PRO: Find Me Gluten Free highlights dedicated gluten-free businesses (no gluten on premises) and those restaurants that have been trained by the Gluten Intolerance Group. These two notes give me the most confidence about a restaurant, regardless of any review.
  • PRO: This app denotes that are “celiac-friendly” based on an option for reviewers to rate during the review process.
  • PRO: You can filter by name, price, rating, tag, and distance (the most helpful when you are finding a close place nearby, especially if you are walking).
  • PRO: When I searched my local area, I found more ratings at my nearby restaurants than any other app reviewed.
  • CON: The site and the app both do not filter for any other food issues besides just gluten. Is this a problem? Well, it just requires a little more work. For example, I found several restaurants around my hotel last week that had gluten-free pizza, but I had to call or go on their website to see if they offered vegan cheese.

Another good app for gluten-free living is AllergyEats Mobile(from Allergy Eats LLC), which is also a full website at www.allergyeats.com.

  • PRO: This app is also fairly simple to use, as it’s able to find where you are by your GPS location or by typing in the address.
  • PRO: Some listings are also incorporated with OpenTable, so you can make a reservation from the app.
  • PRO: Chains are rated with an overall rating that is displayed on each single chain location, which is great because that means each Chipotle doesn’t have to be reviewed in order to see a rating.
  • CON: There were not many restaurants in my local area that were rated, and only one reviewer had rated those locations that had any rating. Even the most friendly of restaurants in my own neighborhood were not rated, and most restaurants that were recommended were 10-15 miles away from me.
  • CON: The app sorts by allergy-friendliness, not by location initially. While I like the idea of highlighting the places that are highly rated, I would prefer it sort by location initially.

Another option isDine Gluten Freeby Karen Broussard of GlutenFreeTravelSite.com. Like the website, the app is a database with user-submitted reviews of gluten-free friendly restaurants, hotels, cruises, etc.

  • PRO:  Each review includes a travel date and a trip type (ex. business or family travel).
  • PRO:  This app includes fast-food and fast-casual chains with gluten-free menus.
  • PRO: I found a restaurant near me that didn’t appear on any of my other app searches that served gluten-free pasta.
  • PRO: The corresponding blog (accessed through the app) provided great gluten-free content and updates.
  • PRO: This app includes an international search. If you’re looking for a gluten-free restaurant in British Columbia, you can find a great list here.
  • CON: There is no “find my location” with distance (for quick “on the go” searching), but you can plug in your address
  • CON: Many of the reviews were from years ago, with a lack of recently reviewed content.

And last, but not least, I’d like to share a program I use for pre-planning before travel (as it is not an app, but has the same features of apps discussed above). CanIEatHere.com helps you find restaurants based on any of the top 8 allergens, “healthy,” kosher, organic, and/or vegan dining. However, this website also offers a full blog with robust content like restaurant reviews, product reviews, and giveaways. When I searched CanIEatHere.com with my address, I found all of the restaurants that I would consider “gluten-free friendly,” although only a few were rated.

While I’m over the moon with using these apps, do you see a pattern in most of these? Most of them were lacking robust reviews of restaurants by actual customers. When I give my presentation about “traveling gluten-free” to groups, I always tell celiacs to pay it forward. When you dine out and have an amazing experience (or on the other hand, a terrible gut-wrenching experience), you’ve got to write about it. Find one of these platforms and blog your heart out about your dining experience – what you ate, how informed the servers were, what the menu was like, etc. By populating these types of platforms with data, we can help our fellow gluten-free diners identify places where they can eat safely in the future. 

**DISCLAIMER: I used to be paid by Find Me Gluten Free for reviews of restaurants, and although I no longer receive compensation from them, I still think they are the best service available. I also know and am friends with the creators of CanIEatHere.com. **

 

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